August 25, 2014 8:06 pm

Alberta doctors break transplant record

WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton doctors have set a new record for the number of organ transplants in the span of 10 days. Su-Ling Goh has more.

EDMONTON – In July, the Mazankowski and U of A transplant services team completed more transplants in a 10-day period than it normally does in one month.

The 32 transplants – which included lungs, hearts, livers, islets, kidneys and a pancreas – broke Alberta’s previous transplant record, which was 30 transplants in 10 days.

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Physicians, nurses and surgeons had to work quickly to match organs to patients and schedule operating rooms and beds.

“Many people that are involved in the care of these patients – the nurses, the OR staff, the physicians – go above and beyond in providing their time and effort to accommodate this,” explained Dr. Jim Kutsogiannis, medical director of the HOPE Program, which coordinates organ and tissue donations in Alberta.

He explained that medical staff must care for transplant recipients, of course, but donors also need care to ensure organs remain in good condition prior to transplant.

“Often, they’re very unstable,” said Kutsogiannis. “They require many caregivers to maintain their organs’ functioning for the purpose of donation.”

However, he said Albertans are becoming increasingly aware of organ donation and that patients’ families are approaching hospital staff more and more about the possibility of donating.

Since the province launched its organ and tissue donation registry in April, 23,000 Albertans have signed up.

READ MORE: Alberta launches online organ and tissue donor registry 

“It’s tough to put into words,” said transplant recipient Rick Galloway.

“You don’t realize how important it is until it happens to you.”

“I realize that it’s the loss of one family, but without it, you have two families affected.”

“A thank you is all you can say,” added Galloway, “and ‘sorry for your loss.’ It’s tough to put into words.”

The organs involved in the record-setting series of transplants came from 11 deceased donors, including eight Albertans.

“As long as people realize the importance of donating now… I hope it opens up a lot of eyes, because it’s important,” said Galloway. “It really is important.”

© Shaw Media, 2014

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